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A radio survey prompted a meeting with the Johannesburg Roads Agency on the issue of broken robots, leading to some solutions.
AGEING infrastructure, vandalism, construction and lack of power have been cited as key issues behind some of Johannesburg’s malfunctioning traffic lights.

faulty traffic lightsFaulty traffic lights are attended to within 24 hoursThese concerns came out of a meeting held on 23 January regarding on-going problems with traffic lights. At the meeting were senior executives from the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) and Lead SA, an independent campaign to boost nation-building and encourage South Africans to make a positive impact on society.

The JRA identified 54 traffic lights as out of order; 17 of these were caused by technical problems that were addressed within 24 hours. A further 17 traffic lights were affected by a lack of power, construction and vandalism, noted the JRA.

The agency is responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing traffic lights across Joburg, from Roodepoort in the west to Bruma in the east, and from Midrand in the north to Orange Farm in the south. Region A has 136 traffic signals, Region B has 402, Region C has 258, Region D has 138, Region E has 358, Region F has 775, and Region G has 54.

Thulani Makhubela, the agency’s spokesperson, assured motorists “traffic signals out due to technical faults are tended to within 24 hours. Those that are out due to other issues, like vandalism, lack of power and construction, take longer to address, as JRA has to liaise with other entities that are involved in addressing these issues.”

It has 11 technicians and one construction team responsible for the maintenance of traffic signals. “Ideally, we would like to have one technician for every 120 traffic intersections. We have 2 125 signalised intersections; therefore we need eight more technicians to reach our goal,” Makhubela said.

“We are happy to report that all parties are now on the same page and have committed ourselves to working together towards finding solutions that would alleviate the problem that motorists face on a daily basis. The meeting has also provided an opportunity to also clarify misunderstandings on some of the problems that relate to traffic signals.”

The average number of traffic lights malfunctioning each month was 540, said Makhubela.

“This translates into average of 18 traffic lights per day, still below the 1 percent of total traffic lights. In addition, on average 70 traffic lights are vandalised and 140 are affected by power supply. The old infrastructure we manage does somewhat contribute to this outlook.”

The meeting came after an on-air survey was conducted by Talk Radio 702 and its sister station 94.7 Highveld Stereo which found that there were 54 traffic lights out of order in Joburg. The survey received more than 3 000 text messages about traffic lights out of order across Gauteng.

“The survey shows the growing frustration among motorists,” said Lead SA’s Yusuf Abramjee. “They don’t want excuses anymore; they want action. We had an informative, frank and open discussion with officials from the JRA … and take cognisance of the fact that there are a number of factors to consider, but which are not without solutions.”

The meeting resolved that:

The 24-hour turnaround period to fix technical problems would be monitored and the JRA would be held accountable;
Cable theft and vandalism of traffic lights was an on-going problem. The public was asked to pass on detailed information to Crime Line anonymously via SMS 32211 or online. Crime Line has a partnership with Eskom’s Operation Khanyisa to stop cable and electricity theft;
Points-people would be deployed to affected intersections, especially major ones that had been identified as long-term problem areas. In this regard, the JRA would engage with the metro police;
Signage at intersections affected on a long-term basis to alert motorists of the problem would be considered by the JRA;
Ageing infrastructure needed to be addressed and;
There needed to be on-going communication by the JRA about affected intersections.
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